WHY WE SLEEP
In “The Nature of Things” documentary, the essence of sleep was explained in detail.
Here are some key points:
LEARNING AND MEMORY
Sleep helps us learn.
Memory processing and memory storage is sleep dependent.
Lack of sleep affects our emotional function and judgement is impaired.
Sleep affects our emotional switching system that guides our choices and decisions.
OBESITY AND SLEEP
Our food intake goes up with less sleep. We eat more especially after dinner. Lack of sleep causes the breakdown of two hormones Leptin (tells us to stop/ decreases appetite) and ghrelin (says time to eat and increases appetite)
We spend 52,000 hours dreaming or equivalent to 6 years. Dreams provide a window into our psychological wellbeing. The more negative our interactions in our dreams, the more anxious and negative and less happy the individual. There is an extraordinary conversation taking place inside our sleeping brains. Dreams may seem chaotic to us but they have order. The brain gives meaning to all the events in our life
THE CORE BIOLOGICAL FUNCTION OF SLEEP
We have blood vessels inside our brain and it is a complex system providing oxygen and nutrients to its cells. At night the brain begins to change. The brain actually CLEANS ITSELF! Our bodies rely on our circulatory system to bring nutrients to its trillions of cells. These cells also produce waste. In our body we have a lymph vessel system that collects and carries waste to our liver where it is eliminated. BUT lymph vessels do not go to the brain.
So how does the brain clean itself of these waste products? During the day, the brain is protected by a sac filled with fluid that surrounds it. At night this sac empties and the fluid filters through the brain. The fluid washes away the waste particles between the cells.
This function is like a dishwasher for our brain. Amyloid beta which is a protein plaque is one of the waste products produced by the brain. This protein builds up in people with Alzheimer’s. While we sleep, the brain washes away these plaques of protein.
We know now that there is a direct relationship between memory impairment and dysfunction in individuals who do not sleep well or long.